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The key drivers behind the increased use of robotics in the Food & Beverage industry

06 July 2023

The Food & Beverage industry has not been as quick to adopt robotics, as have other manufacturing sectors, such as electronics, for example. In recent years however, demand, labour shortages and domestic & overseas competition has encouraged manufacturers to explore ways of utilising robot technologies to optimize production processes.

Robotic automation is steadily making its way into several production processes in Food & Beverage, and delivering significant benefits in terms of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and safety. Here are some of the most significant benefits.

1. Improved efficiency
One of the main advantages of using robotics in the Food & Beverage industry is improved efficiency. Robotic automation allows for faster and more accurate processing of products, reducing the time needed to complete certain tasks. Robots can work around the clock, making it possible to increase production output and meet growing demand for a variety of products.

Robots can also perform repetitive and tedious tasks that would otherwise be carried out by human workers, freeing them up to focus on higher-value tasks. By reducing the workload on human workers, robots can improve overall productivity and boost competitive advantage in a rapidly changing market.

2. Enhanced quality control
Quality control is a critical aspect of the Food & Beverage industry. It can be a challenging for human workers to ensure consistent product quality. However, robots can perform quality control tasks with much greater accuracy and consistency, reducing potential product defects or contamination.

Robots equipped with tooling, such as sensors, can identify product defects and remove them from production lines. They can also identify potential contaminants and remove them before they can cause harm to consumers.

3. Improved food safety
Food safety is a top priority for the Food & Beverage industry, and robots are playing a crucial role in ensuring that products are safe for consumption. Robots can be used to handle raw ingredients and reduce the risk of contamination, such as the transference of bacteria, in sterile and clean room environments.

By improving food safety, companies can minimise the risk of costly product recalls and damage to their reputation.

4. Cost-effectiveness
Robotic automation can also be a cost-effective solution for companies in the Food & Beverage industry. Robots can operate continuously without the need for breaks, reducing labour costs and increasing production efficiency. They also require less maintenance than traditional production equipment and have longer lifespans. 

In addition, robots processes can reduce waste by identifying and removing defective products, even measuring ingredients, reducing the overall cost of production.

5. Flexibility
One of the key benefits of robotics in the Food & Beverage, and general industry, is the flexibility they provide. Robots can be programmed to perform a variety of tasks, from packaging and labelling to sorting and quality control. They can also be quickly reprogrammed to handle new products or changes in production processes.

This flexibility enables companies to respond quickly to changing market trends and adapt to new products or production methods. It also allows companies to operate more efficiently, reducing the need for specialized equipment and increasing production output.

6. Enhanced worker safety
Robots can also help improve worker safety in the Food & Beverage industry. Repetitive and physically demanding tasks, such as lifting heavy objects or working in cramped spaces, can pose a risk of injury to human workers.

By automating these tasks with robots, the risk of workplace injuries are reduced and a safer working environment for employees is established.

The Food industry demands very high safety standards and technical requirements for robots. In part because of the use of food-safe lubrication. The strict requirements of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC and DIN ISO 14159 are designed to protect both workers and consumers and only robot hardware that conforms to such strict legislation are deemed as safe for use in direct contact with food products.

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